College basketball’s myriad rule changes for next season don’t have every coach singing praises of the new game to come.
Among them: Vintage college hoops grouser Bob Huggins. West Virginia’s coach isn’t all about that new style of play, really. Huggins said the following on Monday’s Big 12 teleconference with the media. (Hat tip to NewsOK.com for transcribing.)
“I thought we had a great game,” Huggins said. “I don’t know why we’re doing what we’re doing. You watch the NBA Playoffs and it comes down to throwing the ball to the best player in the world and letting him play. You think about the guys we consider the great coaches of all time and they ran great offense. They really controlled the game with their offense and I think the more and more we reduce the shot clock, the more and more the best players are always going to win. Can’t run a lot of offense.”
To be clear here, Huggins is purely referring to the shot clock going down from 35 to 30 seconds, and if being unable to get into your offense in 30 seconds is a problem, the shot clock is the least of your worries.
“You’re going to come down and run a quick hitter into a ball screen or spread everybody and drive it. I think everybody’s tired of watching 40 free throws a game but it’s going to end up that. That’s just the nature of what it is when you have to spread people and not run offense. … I’m puzzled with the infatuation with the NBA. We keep going in that direction (but) I think we have a game that’s a lot more pleasing to the eyes. So I don’t understand why we continue to go that direction. There’s something to be said for people who do a great job of guarding and playing in the half-court.”
The philosophy that college basketball is “more pleasing to the eyes” than the NBA is the reasoning of only college basketball coaches and the strictest of college hoop diehards. Better, bigger, faster talent makes for a better watch. College hoops has its inherit charms and styles that make it great, but to argue the game was aesthetically superior to the NBA in the past decade is a fool’s call. The game needed revamping, and thankfully that’s finally come.
Huggins is right, though: More foul shots are coming. So many more. An adjustment period is inevitable, and it’s probably going to take a few years. Foul fests will add up unless coaches adjust the way they coach to the way officials will call the game. Change was necessary, but results and a prettier game won’t come right away. Get ready for more moaning next season.